CIO Magazine: November Issue

Top CIOs Start the Journey to the 'Digital Enterprise'

The buzzphrase 'digital enterprise' can be a bit mushy. What does it really mean? And how do you get there? Here are five emerging models.

CIO Magazine: November Issue

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Digital Transformation Starts With the CEO

The digital enterprise has a paradox: It happens because of leadership from the CEO, not the CIO. That's because a company, the whole thing, transforms as it goes from just computerized to fully digital.

"The hardest thing is knowing what the right business moves are, the new business models emerging and how you should engage with your customer," says Mojgan Le­febvre, CIO of Liberty Mutual's Global Specialty business. The answers to these questions drive a company's technology choices.

CEOs do not implement the digital business. CEOs open doors for CIOs to implement it. "We are as much an information company as we are a drug company," says Diana McKenzie, CIO at Amgen. "When the CEO is demonstrating that leadership and vision, it's much easier for that to cascade down through the organization in terms of priorities."

A CEO who sets a digital vision makes it easier for the other C-level leaders to collaborate on it, she says. Digital business is "a team sport," says Thaddeus Arroyo, who was CIO at AT&T Services until a recent promotion. "The CEO's vision determines the focus, and collaboration comes from that," he says.

What about CEOs who don't get it? CIOs have to show CEOs the data that makes the digital story compelling, says Ray Voelker, CIO at Progressive Insurance. He confesses he's lucky: Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick preceded Voelker as CIO. But for the unlucky, at least in consumer businesses, Voelker advises building a presentation showing how rapidly transactions are shifting from the traditional Web to mobile platforms, the technical diversity of those mobile platforms, and what it costs to keep up with that diversity.

CIOs should also highlight the impact digital is having on other industries, says Le­febvre. "If the CEO looks around and sees how other industries have been disrupted and companies have gone out of business because customers have leveraged other technology or business models, they'll get it," she says.

At State Street Bank, CEO Joseph (Jay) Hooley definitely gets it. "Jay is the No. 1 champion of the role technology can play in this environment," says State Street CIO Chris Perretta, pointing out that Hooley is aware that companies ignore the impact of technology at their own peril.

For CIOs, the challenge is to be ready to engage with business colleagues and make the vision real.

--M.F.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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